Depression in Men

depressionIt can be difficult for mental health care providers to identify depression in men, and it can be more difficult for the average man to realize he is suffering from it.[1]

A man may notice certain changes in his behavior and know that he doesn’t quite feel like himself, but he may not link those recognitions with depression as they are usually not the typical symptoms he sees on the antidepressant TV commercials.1 Male depression looks different than female depression.1 In fact, it is easy to confuse male depression with stress, anger, and irritability.1 Times have changed and men are no longer expected to just tough-it-out and “be a man”—depression is not a sign of weakness and it can be treated very successfully.1

Men often manifest their psychological symptoms of depression as physical ailments.1 They may complain about feeling tired, begin to sleep too much or have trouble sleeping, become extremely stressed, and have stomach aches or back and shoulder pain.1 They may turn to alcohol or other substances to deal with their emotions, leading them to become more irritable and angry with those around them.1

On the other hand, women often present their symptoms of depression with emotional dysregulation, such as crying and sadness.1 Women often blame themselves while men blame others.1 Women feel anxious and scared while men feel suspicious and guarded.1 Women will avoid conflicts while men may create them.1 Women use food, friends, and love to self-medicate while men use alcohol, TV, and sex.1 Most of all, women often find it easier to talk about self-doubt while men will not admit these feelings for fear of being labeled as “weak.”1

Men still have many of the more common symptoms, such as an empty mood, feelings of hopelessness and guilt, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating and remembering, and appetite or weight changes.1 However, as the physical symptoms are often present more of a problem to them, men will seek the help of their primary care doctor, not understanding that the root cause is psychological.1 Primary care physicians may run tests and determine the patient is physically healthy, without understanding how depression manifests in men.1

While there are many reasons why depression develops, men often report triggers that intensify their symptoms.1 For example, stress at work, home, or school, relationship issues, inability to meet goals, financial problems, chronic health problems, overwhelming family responsibilities, and death of a loved one are all common triggers.1 When women experience these stressors, they become overwhelmed and anxious, while men feel inadequate and hopeless.1 Men are often functionally depressed, meaning that they are able to function at minimum level throughout the day although they suffer with the disorder.1 Things become more about the routine than the personal pleasure or enjoyment.1

There is no shame in seeking professional help for depression.1 It is extremely treatable.

[1] Brennan, M. (2013). The Truth About Male Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2013, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/balanced-life/2013/10/the-truth-about-male-depression/

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